Thongma Vijitpongpun, the Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of PRUKSA Holding Company Limited (PSH) was born into an underprivileged family, the son of a fish maw trader in Chonburi province, Thailand. The family was so cash-strapped that 13-year-old Thongma had to stop formal education in grade four in order to work at a soldering shop, to help his father provide for his six other siblings. But Thongma had dreams which drove him to Bangkok at the age of 14, where he worked at a pharmacy and a gold shop. He saved towards English tutoring in the evening after work, and was finally able to attain a general education diploma which enabled him to qualify for high school. Although his interest was in the field of medicine, he decided to take the entrance exam for the engineering faculty at Chulalongkorn University.
“My uncle would sell a bowl of fish maw soup for one baht, but my dad sold it at half that. My dad said that it was because our customers only had that much money. It was from him that I learnt about the responsibility we have to our customers.”
Deeply spiritual, Thongma credits dharma (the teachings of Buddha on cosmic law and order) as the secret to his business survival. “Adopting dharma made me calm, allowed me to concentrate, and gave me the wisdom to slowly solve problems, little by little, one by one. The principle of The Noble Eightfold Path is mainly divided into three main categories; ethics, samadhi and wisdom. Ethics consists of right action, right speech and right mind. Samadhi consists right mindfulness and right concentration. And lastly, Wisdom consists of right thought, right effort and right view. I have adopted these ethical principles in my business. I practice right action, right speech and right mind by not taking advantage of customers by delivering them poor quality products, by always building good houses and thinking about how to continue improving in the future,” he says with conviction.
His adherance to those beliefs has certainly worked. Thongma shares, “We are growing continuously. According to the business plan, we expect revenue to be 55 billion baht this year. We aim to grow that up to five hundred billion baht in the next five years.” As a true blue entreprenuer, however, this captain of industry understands that no matter how beautiful success is, it is never sustainable.
In March 2018, the corporation underwent an organizational restructuring to establish PRUKSA Holdings (PSH) as the parent company of PRUKSA Real Estate.The holding company is now looking for new investment opportunities in both premium housing for high-end consumers, and hospitals.
Thongma firmly believes that the more a person gives, the more they receive. It is a belief that has become part of his leadership personality and company values. “Many people might not understand, and it might also sound strange in the business world. But this is how the world really works. When we give without thinking much, we receive friendship in return. So, when we need help, they will come and help us. This is the same with business. When we offer customers good products and services, they become impressed. They will come back to buy from us, keep supporting us, tell their friends, and that is when we are at the receiving end.”
Thongma admits that his father influenced his way of thinking. As he tells it, “My uncle would sell a bowl of fish maw soup for one baht, but my dad sold it at half that. My dad said that it was because our customers only had that much money. It was from him that I learnt about the responsibility we have to our customers.”